The waste recovery park for North Yorkshire and York can generate energy to power 40,000 homes a year from rubbish that would previously have gone into landfill.
The start of full service at Allerton Waste Recovery Park (AWRP) near Knaresborough began this month after a period of rigorous testing.
The facility can treat up to 320,000 tonnes of waste each year and will divert more than 90% of waste from landfill, as well as further increase recycling.
It is the result of a partnership between North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council to process waste over the next 25 years.
County Councillor Andrew Lee, executive member for waste management, said: “We are delighted to see this project come to fruition and for Allerton Waste Recovery Park to begin full service.
“The facility is a step forward in the way the county treats its waste, by turning it into a resource and recovering energy from it – helping the UK to become less reliant on gas and coal for electricity
“Allerton Park is an important part of our plan for maximising the benefit of waste well into the future.
“It is not intended as an alternative to kerbside recycling by district councils or recycling through the county council’s 22 household waste recycling centres.
“Those remain the best ways to recycle. But Allerton Park enables us to extract the last few remaining items of recyclable material.”
AWRP processes waste through a mechanical treatment plant, which separates recyclable and organic materials.
Organic material is fed into an anaerobic digester, which will treat up to 40,000 tonnes a year to generate renewable energy.
The remaining waste is used to generate electricity, enough to power at least 40,000 homes.
Treating waste to produce energy rather than sending it to landfill helps with global warming and will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 12,000 cars off the road.
AWRP will be operated by infrastructure firm Amey following a successful three-year construction programme.
Councillor Andrew Waller, acting leader and executive member for the environment at
“During the commissioning and testing, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill and a benefit that some material going there is being recycled and reused.
“It saves money on expensive landfill taxes and even produces energy which we can sell back into the national grid.”